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Elaine O'Neal wins Durham mayoral bid, City Council incumbents keep seats

<p>Elaine O’Neal’s supporters believe the lifelong Bull City resident knows Durham like nobody else.</p>

Elaine O’Neal’s supporters believe the lifelong Bull City resident knows Durham like nobody else.

Elaine O’Neal became the first Black female mayor of Durham Tuesday evening.

DeDreana Freeman and Mark-Anthony Middleton also won reelection in Wards I and II in the Durham City Council elections. Leonardo Williams won the Ward III election in a much closer contest, only beating opponent AJ Williams by 635 votes.

Only 15.18% of registered Durham voters voted in Tuesday’s municipal elections, according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections.

Elaine O'Neal makes history

O’Neal defeated mayoral candidate Javiera Caballero—who suspended her campaign following the primary election in October—receiving 84.69% of the vote.

She ran for mayor on a platform centered around neighborhood safety and well-being, housing & transit, youth engagement & education and economic relief & recovery. 

O’Neal the first Black female Mayor to serve the city of Durham. During her term, she hopes to “get [Durham] to a point where we can reunite as one.”

Caballero, who currently serves as a City Council member, received 14.50% of the vote. She was elected as an At-Large Council member in 2019 and her term expires in 2023. Caballero’s platform focused on affordable housing, community safety and sustainability. Despite receiving an endorsement from current Durham Mayor Steve Schewel, she suspended her campaign after only receiving 24.63% of the primary votes.

Leonardo Williams gets slight edge

In Ward I, incumbent DeDreana Freeman defeated Marion Johnson with 71.17% of the vote. Freeman ran on a platform dedicated to community health & safety, environmental justice, environmental stewardship, jobs & economic growth, and transportation & sustainable housing.  Freeman has served as a member of the City of Durham Ward I Council since 2017. 

In Ward II, incumbent Mark-Anthony Middleton beat Marion Johnson with 87.57% of the vote. Middleton’s platform emphasized reducing gun violence, addressing gentrification and reducing poverty in Durham. Middleton said that if reelected, he will “seek to codify guaranteed income and become an ambassador for it nationally.”

The race for Ward III was much more contested, but ultimately Leonardo Williams won the contest with 50.95% of the vote. 

Leonardo Williams began the night with a 12-point lead when the Board of Elections first started reporting absentee ballots. As more votes were reported, the race became closer—he ultimately won by a margin of only 635 votes. 

Leonardo Williams is a former teacher, school administrator, and current small-business owner. His campaign platform prioritized promoting holistic community safety and well-being. 


Kathryn Thomas

Kathryn Thomas is a Trinity sophomore and an associate news editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.

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